Prep your patio for spring

Don’t just sweep the spring cleaning under the rug, move it outside and take advantage of those temperate days before the desert sun swelters in a few months.

If you forgot to take care of your patio furniture at the end of the season last year, don’t feel bad — most of the rest of us did, too.

Don’t despair, just work on repairing it, and you can get right to enjoying that poolside mojito with a steamy romance novel or downing that beer while a steak sizzles on the grill.

After pulling out the furniture, properly stored from the weather or not, the first step is to do a good once-over. Tighten any loose bolts, sand off any rust and fill in any cracks in the wood.

Then get down and dirty.

“Everything needs soap and water,” said Pablo Carmona, store manager of California Patio on Dean Martin Drive. “You have to keep in mind, too, that out here the water has a lot of calcium so you have to dry it off or else you’re going to have all those spots. There’s certain products we sell that are furniture protectants that you can really tell on the darker frames, it restores the frame color and really brings it back to life.”

Then scrub, by hand. Experts suggest skipping the power washing because it can chip the furniture and lead to further deterioration. But you don’t need an expensive solution. A quarter cup of liquid dish soap in a gallon of warm — but not hot— water should do the trick.

The wicker furnitur e should have been brought in from the elements, as the material doesn’t hold up well to extremes. But even neglected wicker can have life.

When wicker dryies, it gets brittle. To restore its luster, use a mix of two cups of boiled linseed oil and one cup of turpentine.

And remember, wicker and rattan furniture is meant for the shade, not the direct Las Vegas sun.

“A lot of the wicker frames are hollow underneath,” Carmona said. “We live in the desert so there’s a lot of spiders out here. When you do your maintenance, make sure you get into all the crevices because you see cobwebs and whatnot. On your metal frames you can usually see it, but on wicker you have to flip it over and make sure you get in there to clean it.”

For plastic furniture that just doesn’t pop anymore, after cleaning with soap and water — or dish detergent or Oxiclean if it’s really grimy — try a coat of colored spray paint made for plastic. Just don’t bleach the plastic, it harms the material.

Outdoor cushions bring their own dirty problems. If soap and water don’t do the trick, a good scrub down with bleach should restore the life of the cushions.

And when things are a little more desperate, fabric spray paint can clean up the look — or change it completely to meet a new need.

As a last resort, fabric cushions can be reupholstered.

“You could always get them redone with new cushions in different colors,” Carmona said. He said since every cushion has a different distinct shape, the best bet is to bring the original cushion to a retailer to have a pattern drawn and cut to recover them.

“We can do whatever color you want or add buttons or accents, like welting — a piping with different color tones, such as a red cushion with a white accent,” he said. The prices for reupholstering depend on the type of fabric, its texture and complexity. Prices start at about $250 for a club chair.

“Your main enemy out here is the dust,” he said. “Your basic maintenance should be hosing the furniture off to get the dust off or getting a stick to beat the cushion to get some of that dust out of it.”

And don’t forget at the end of the season: Protect the furniture with covers, or store it away.

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